Archive for December, 2015

Weapons of War

Most of us rely on the reality that there is a devil and that he causes bad things to happen. When we see tragedies like the massacre that unfolded in San Bernardino recently, we know there must be an evil being behind it. But can we also see the subtle ways that Satan works to rob, steal, and destroy our lives (John 10:10)?

Often his primary tactic is to get us to believe lies. For example, he has many of us believing that what we do is not important. Worse yet, he tries to get us to believe we’re not important. But those are lies! God tells us repeatedly that we are precious and what we do is important (Isaiah 43:4; 1 Corinthians 15:58). Yet, because of Satan’s works deep within our hearts, we often refuse to let go of the lies and embrace the truth that we are always important to God, no matter what others think.

So what weapons has God given us to combat the attacks of the Evil One? How can we stand strong in the spiritual battle that we are all in every day? Ephesians 6 describes what the full armor of God is that he has provided us to stand strong in the spiritual war. Four of the most important are the following:

Be Alert

One of our most important weapons is alertness. Satan seeks to hide his presence and evil workings from us. We need to look beyond people and to the hidden war that God is locked in with Satan. Although God is infinitely more powerful than Satan, if we choose to believe lies, we will continue to be ensnared in Satan’s power. As we set ourselves on the new life that we have been given by God, we need to stay alert to the ways that Satan tries to sabotage this.

Practice Truth

Knowing and applying truth will set us free from Satan’s bondage. But only if it’s relied on. For example, the truth is that God loves us. But if we don’t deeply rely on this, we can fall prey to seeking approval from others and meeting man-made standards of performance to feel loved.  This often leads us astray to disobedience to God. Disobedience cuts us off from God’s power. Thus, the power to win the battles comes from practicing truth (James 1:22).

Rely on the Spirit

It’s amazing how many of us try to live the Christian life without Christ. Even though God is all powerful, he will not put to flight Satan if we don’t rely on him through his Spirit. But somehow we get fooled into thinking that if we just know God’s will, we will do it. But we can’t. Our flesh trips us up every time. It’s still true today that it’s “not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit” that we stand and move forward in the face of Satan’s blistering attacks (Zechariah 4:6, paraphrased).


A final weapon to emphasize is prayer. Prayer is probably the most important weapon, although they all need to be used. Prayer connects us to God, for the battle is his. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We don’t stand a chance against his schemes unless God is protecting and empowering us.  That’s why God says to us, “Pray on all occasions for all Christians for I will do much good through your prayers (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16, paraphrased).

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The Power to Live

A few years ago I was listening to a pastor teach on the role of the Holy Spirit and how he helped us live the Christian life. The pastor taught that the Holy Spirit teaches, comforts, and convicts of sin. I thought to myself, “This is great! Now for the punch line – that he provides the power to live the Christian life”

But the punch line never came. He didn’t teach that the Holy Spirit provides the power to live the Christian life even though it’s a clear teaching of Scripture (Romans 8:13).

How did this happen? How can a respected and knowledgeable teacher of the Word of God miss teaching this important truth? Was it an oversight? Or was there something more going on here?

What could be going on here is that we Protestants have been strong in teaching that the Bible is our authority for life and godliness. We have also tended to emphasize the importance of evangelism. Where we have been weak is in focusing on sanctification. This is the process of how we cooperate with God in growing spiritually and living the powerful life that we have been called to.

Why We Often Lack The Power

One of the reasons we lack the power to live is that we try to grind it out in our own strength. For example, the battle cry for me in the past has been “Give me the biblical principles and I’ll do them.” But sadly I learned that I couldn’t. Having begun by depending on God, I was trying to grow and serve by my own fortitude (Galatians 3:3). We don’t let the Spirit lead, but instead try to muscle our way towards living and serving God.

We also don’t obey – and then we get mad because God’s power seems to be missing from our lives. We don’t seem to realize that the Holy Spirit in us is a Person and can be grieved and quenched when he is disobeyed. And without his presence we can’t accomplish anything that will stand the test of time (John 15:5).

Probably the most tragic reason for our lack of power is to know the truth without relying on it. We think that because we know God totally accepts us that we will be able to cope with rejection by others or ourselves. But how many of us worry more about what people think of us than what God does? And when we don’t depend on his perspective, he withdraws his power from our lives (Hebrews 11:6).


Living By This Power

We live in this power by keeping in step with the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (Galatians 5:25). We need to develop sensitivity to his guidance. One of the key ways I discern the way to go is through experiencing peace, relying on God’s promise that “In all my ways I will give you peace” (Proverbs 3:17, paraphrased).

Another way we live by this power is to shed the lies that control us and embrace the truths. For example, it’s a lie that we aren’t important and don’t have major purposes in life. The truth is that “we are continually being made more like God in character and have specific purposes that he has made us to accomplish” (Ephesians 2:10, paraphrased). By shedding the lies and embracing the truths, he empowers us to change and accomplish the supernatural tasks that he has planned for us.


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